AUGUST 23 – OCTOBER 19, 2019

The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is delighted to present HARVEST, an exhibition of the work of Ann Johnson and Kaneem Smith August 23 through October 19, 2019.  In the exhibition the artists explore the relationship between agriculture and human subjugation as well as the phenomenon of the over-consumption of natural resources in the Western Hemisphere.

History of Gynecology by Ann Johnson.
Intaglio, Found object

Ann (Soul Sister) Johnson is widely known for her printmaking skills employing assorted materials, with cotton being her favorite printing surface. The raw cotton in Johnson’s works is an obvious nod to America’s history of slavery and share cropping. However the cotton motif carries an even deeper meaning with her use of cotton balls additionally referencing the disturbing history of African Americans and medical research. Johnson’s use of bird houses and her incorporation of gauze strips highlights perhaps the most infamous example of antebellum medical research being performed on slaves, that of J. Marion Sims, whose innovation of a revolutionary gynecological procedure was made possible by multiple practice runs on enslaved women. 

Past Perpetual by Kaneem Smith. Weight and cotton

The Western over-consumption of natural resources is the core of Kaneem Smiths’ work.  As an artist working with fiber, Smith uses textiles and other materials to explore the human condition.  Whether her work is two or three dimensional, it references the historical colonialism and the continuing byproduct of economic abuse of natural resources. Smith’s work in this exhibition opens a dialogue about ethics and global trade and resource exploitation. 

According to HMAAC Exhibitions Manager, Dominic Clay, “The artistic expertise and control of materials to make their point is extraordinary.” HMAAC CEO John Guess, Jr. added, “We rarely pay the kind of attention we should to our consumption of finite natural resources or on the dark side of our agricultural history and its effect on societal stratification. The exploration of medical experimentation and race highlights how important ethical protocols are in both agriculture and science.”

HARVEST is generously sponsored by HEB and the Board of Directors of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.


The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning. HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC will bring to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. The museum continues to be a space where a multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future takes place.

Plantation Queen by Ann Johnson. Intaglio, Found objects